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Structural health monitoring: a practical approach to achieving in-situ and site-specific warning of pipeline corrosion and coating failure
conference contributionposted on 2015-11-18, 00:00 authored by Mike Yongjun TanMike Yongjun Tan, Bob Varela, Maria ForsythMaria Forsyth
An approach to achieving the ambitious goal of cost effectively extending the safe operation life of energy pipelines to, for instance, 100 years is the application of structural health monitoring and life prediction tools that are able to provide long-term remnant pipeline life prediction and in-situ pipeline condition monitoring. A critical step in pipeline structural health monitoring is the enhancement of technological capabilities that are required for quantifying the effects of key factors influencing buried pipeline corrosion and environmentally assisted materials degradation, and the development of condition monitoring technologies that are able to provide in-situ monitoring and site-specific warning of pipeline damage. This paper provides an overview of our current research aimed at developing new sensors for monitoring, categorising and quantifying the level and nature of external pipeline and coating damages under the combined effects of various inter-related variables and processes such as localised corrosion, coating damage and disbondment, cathodic shielding. The concept of in-situ monitoring and site-specific warning of pipeline corrosion is illustrated by a case of monitoring localised corrosion under disbonded coatings using a new corrosion monitoring probe. A basic principle that underpins the use of sensors to monitor localised corrosion has been presented: Localised corrosion and coating failure are not an accidental occurrence, it occurs as the result of fundamental thermodynamic instability of a metal exposed to a specific environment. Therefore corrosion and coating disbondment occurring on a pipeline will also occur on a sensor made of the same material and exposed to the same pipeline condition. Although the exact location of localised corrosion or coating disbondment could be difficult to pinpoint along the length of a buried pipeline, the ‘worst-case scenario’ and high risk pipeline sections and sites are predictable. Sensors can be embedded at these strategic sites to collect data that contain ‘predictor features’ signifying the occurrence of localised corrosion, CP failure, coating disbondment and degradation. Information from these sensors will enable pipeline owners to prioritise site survey and inspection operations, and to develop maintenance strategy to manage aged pipelines, rather than replace them.